Posts tagged “Google”.

Google Debuts Dynamic Search

Major changes to Google’s search box again today, yesterday’s interactive mad bubbles are gone, no more procrastination time spent chasing bubbles on the screen.

Today they are replaced with a sleek chrome gray logo which to my surprise is also interactive. The logo’s letters fill in with color as you type.

Another surprise, the search appears to be ‘dynamic’, filling in possible search terms which change as you type in the box. Your results appear without any need to click the search button.

How cool is that?

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Google On The Move

Big news for Australian sellers!

Google Australia recently applied to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and was granted a financial services license to provide deposit and payments services to local merchants and shoppers.

Australian buyers have been able to pay overseas merchants through Google Checkout for some time.

We’re not saying

As usual Google Australia is non-committal as to when they will be ready to roll out the service. Spokesman Rob Shilkin confirmed that the company was working on options to roll out an internet payments platform in Australia. “It’s a matter of doing the due diligence and the homework so that if we’re in a position to launch we can do it,” he said. “But no decision has been taken.”

Other news from Google down under

Google announced a new dashboard in the Local Business Center in Australia and New Zealand to help business owners understand how people are searching for their online business listings. The dashboard will show which search queries led users to the business and how many times users clicked through to the business’ website.

Google spokesman William Easton said

“This Christmas consumers are researching their purchases online more than ever before – whether it’s Christmas presents, travel plans, local restaurants or home furnishings. There’s a significant opportunity for Australian businesses both small and large to tap into search marketing to further drive Christmas sales. There’s still time in ‘09 to be found online.”

“The most important thing is that retailers need to be conscious about ensuring they show all the information they would in a normal store. They need to have information about what products they sell, the places they sell them and their availability.”

Easton told retailers the more information a business has available on a website, “the more informed the customer is…and therefore the more likely they are to buy”.
To help new customers Google is offering vouchers for a $100 AdWords search marketing campaign.

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WYSIWYG or Maybe Not

What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) is not only the trust basis of mail order and internet sales, it is also a user interface or HTML editor. For eBay sellers the acronym has a completely different meaning.

How appropriate then, for a scamming website; that what the product sellers (who are the site’s fee paying customers) see is not what they get. Yes, I am talking about eBay. It is all about cookies and it is deceptive.

In October I blogged on Google’s September announcement of changes to product feed policy for eCommerce merchants who sell through a marketplace or aggregator like eBay or Bonanzle. and how they might impact eBay sellers.

eBay’s Matthias Klappenbach, Manager, Search announced, condescendingly, that sellers were not to concern themselves.

“Although the vast majority of traffic to eBay listings comes from searches on eBay, we know Google Base can help drive additional traffic to eBay and to sellers’ listings.”

He then went on in best BaySpeak mode, no actual lies but lots of misinformation. Business as usual on eBay.


eBay places lots of special cookies on your computer. On login eBay sets an astounding 30 cookies, the most of any site on the web. Any search sets 13 more eBay cookies plus 2 from Doubleclick. Making a search for completed auctions will earn the user 23 more cookies, plus 2 more from Doubleclick. Some of these are flash cookies which do not seem to get erased when you ‘delete all cookies’ in your browser.  Want to see what you have on your computer? This link takes you to the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager. This cookie fest is quite normal, many sites do it, to some extent and it is all part of eBay’s Trust and Safety program.

A seller, carrying a full load of eBay cookies, searching Google for their listing would see this image (right) after clicking on the item. Click to enlarge. Looks perfectly normal, right?

Back to eBay and Google search

You are looking for something special on Google, a specific  Italian vase, and you see one available  on eBay. You have never shopped on eBay, but you have heard of it.

Here is the Google result below, click to enlarge.
Now click on the thumbnail image above left to enlarge a screen shot made Thursday, November 19, 2009, 10:25:15 AM.  See all the other cross promoted listings? That is what a new eBay user with no seller cookies, Flash or otherwise sees.

I can’t say that I am surprised, although I am disgusted. What do you think?

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The eBay Sales Slump and Google

Last week I wrote about eBay’s potential response to Google’s changes to feed policy which will go into effect December 1st 2009.

It is difficult to gauge how much of the current search dysfunction and drop in sales is caused by eBay as opposed to impending actions by Google. I am inclined to discount Google’s contribution at the moment for the following reasons.

In August I wrote “Historically traffic has taken months to recover from Best Match changes.” Barely three weeks after roll out of the Top Rated Seller project and simultaneous debut of Best Match II I believe we are seeing the initial results of the churn (def.#7). It is too early for the Google changes to be directly affecting eBay traffic.

Best Match II

eBay is flying by the seat of their pants on the Best Match algorithm, their mathematical genius and owner of the patent, Raghav Gupta (I am not being snarky, he is a genius) quit. It is very probable that continued tinkering with the selection process at the behest of eBay executive directives is having unintended consequences. Think GIGO.

Affiliate Program

eBay affiliate driven traffic is decreasing as affiliates are undergoing their own churn. Just as with sellers, who are being forced to evaluate the profitability and viability of continuing to do business on eBay, affiliates have seen massive “take it or leave it” changes to the payment schedule and structure. Changes which have lowered income for many affiliates, while purportedly increasing efficiency and value for eBay, have encouraged them to move on. Same song, different verse.

I am not in any way qualified to analyze anything about affiliate business but it stands to reason that less affiliate driven traffic will result in less sales for vendors of product which appeals to affiliate marketers.

Google Feeds

eBay is still uploading feeds.

A quick look at the format of the feeds will show that eBay’s goal with Google feeds is to bring traffic to eBay, any traffic. Not to bring a qualified and motivated buyer to the specific product they are seeking but to get them on the site and into the eBay finding experience.

It would not surprise me to learn that to some extent the pending changes to Google Shopping are driven by searchers dissatisfaction at being funneled to eBay regardless of what they are looking for.

Remember those ridiculous advertisements saying “Find ______ (insert word of choice) on eBay”? eBay’s feeds are a variation on that theme using organic search rather than pay per click advertising.

Advertising, Discounts and Coupons

eBay has chosen to embrace coupons instead of paid advertising for the last few years. Coupons work to a certain extent but in the eBay bucks format they are unlikely to bring any meaningful new user traffic to the venue for a variety of reasons. For the existing casual or occasional eBay user:

  • Low priced items only gain the buyer a cent or two per purchase
  • search is so difficult that the size of discount offered is no incentive to bother
  • the program is complicated, and
  • eBay bucks expire before any meaningful benefit can be gained by the occasional buyer.

Even buyers who are internet savvy had problems getting their money from the Microsoft cash back program last year, the promotion was so complex that (in my view) it generated negative attitude and distrust, which is lingering.


I think that the drop in sales is a direct result of the notorious eBay tendency to see the results they want to see in the data. If you believe that the majority of eBay sales come from on site traffic why would you have any incentive to improve outside traffic to items listed on the site? It is a self perpetuating problem.

eBay sellers I respect tell me that only a small percentage of their sales come from off eBay sources. This makes sense if the site is not promoting traffic inflow but relying on the user base and their own deeply flawed and manipulated search. I also think the sales slump is not site wide.

What do you think?

A blog post at Series Books for Girls talks about the recent drop in sell-through rates for eBay booksellers in her niche. Meanwhile I am off to buy myself a bird watcher on eBay, just kidding.

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Full disclosure: I am an ex-eBay seller currently selling on my own website and